Summary: This sermon examines the resurrection of Jesus from the perspective of 3 different people - John, Peter and Mary.
April 15, 2001 – Easter John 20:1-18
“Going away empty-hearted”
Let me start out with a scenario for you this morning. Every day, a gentleman went to work. Every day, he would ride the elevator all the way to the bottom floor of the high rise apartment building that he lived in. But when he came home from work, he would ride the elevator back up to only the 6th floor. Then, he would take the stairs to his apartment many stories higher in the building. This he did every day, unless it was raining. If it was raining, he would ride the elevator all the way to the floor of his apartment. Why?
Here’s another one to think about. Ann is lying on the floor dead. There’s broken glass and water all around her. Stuart is asleep on the couch seemingly oblivious to the death that has occurred. How did Ann die?
Did you ever play those kind of mind games where you are presented with a scene, and you have to figure out what happened to make that scene the way that it is by asking questions that can only be answered with a “yes” or “no”? Just so that you won’t be trying to figure those out the rest of the morning instead of listening to what our main topic is today, I’ll tell you the answers to them.
In the first one, the reason the gentleman would only go the 6th floor on his return home from work was because that was the highest button that he could reach on the elevator control panel. He was a short man. On days that it rained, he had his umbrella with him, and he could use that to punch the button that indicated his floor. In the second situation, it might help you to know that Ann is a fish, and Stuart is a cat. And the glass and water all around Ann on the floor is from her fishbowl that Stuart successfully knocked over.
Let’s try one more. On Friday night, a man dies. He is buried on that same night. On Sunday morning, some friends of his arrive at the tomb where he was buried to pay their last respects only to discover that his body is gone. What happened? That’s the situation that we’re going to look at this morning. Let’s read vs. 1-2 of John 20.
Early in the morning, a group of at least 5 women approached the tomb where Jesus’ body had been laid. There had not been sufficient time after His crucifixion to properly prepare Him for His burial. As they got closer, suddenly a thought occurred to them: “Who is going to roll away that huge stone from the door of the cave?” (Mk 16:3) But in spite of the obstacle, they kept on going. When they got to the tomb, they found a scene that they did not expect. They found the soldiers that guarded the tomb lying on the ground, looking very much like they were dead. (Mt. 28:4) But more amazing than that, they found the stone rolled away from the entrance to the tomb. (Mt 28:2 – angel rolled it away) So they walked past the guards and entered the tomb where Jesus body had been placed. When they got there, they found the body gone! Suddenly, two angels appeared and proclaimed to them that Jesus had arisen! The angels told them to go and tell His disciples, so that is exactly what they did. (Lk 24:4-6) When they got there, they caught their breath for a moment, and then they began to excitedly tell all that they had seen and heard. But the men didn’t believe them. It sounded like a bunch of gibberish to them! (Lk 24:11) Guards that seemed to be dead…the stone rolled away…men in bright clothing…Jesus alive?! None of it made any sense. But the message was intriguing enough to provoke two of Jesus’ disciples, John and Peter, to go to the tomb to see for themselves. So John, Peter and Mary Magdalene head off to the tomb to see for themselves if they can figure out this mysterious occurrence that had happened that day. There was an empty tomb. No one doubted that part of the women’s story. But what they needed to decide for themselves was why it was empty and what it all meant.
That’s the same thing that you must decide. We all agree that there is an empty tomb. You wouldn’t be here today if you didn’t believe that. But the question is how are you going to respond to that empty tomb. How is it going to affect your life?
Three different people came to the tomb that day, and each one responded in a different way.